Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A letter from a member of the lost tribe

As the Artistic Director of Watts Village Theater Company, a multicultural urban theater company that seeks to inspire positive social change through innovative theatrical work, I read “Small Theaters: Having Impact” with great interest. I wanted to read what Steven Leigh Morris and Charles McNulty consider impactful and was a little disturbed that none of the theaters in the article make their home south of the 10 Freeway. It would appear that the “collective myopia” Mr. Morris so eloquently talked about was in full display. Now granted I do not know what the criteria used to form the list was, but I do know that if impact is important then there were a handful of companies that should have been on the list.

Here are some theaters to think about when thinking about having an impact in Los Angeles Theater.

Cornerstone Theater Company: With their more than twenty years in existence, they are head and shoulders above us all in L.A. theater when it comes to the development of new work with and in highly impacted communities. Their most recent production in Pacoima “It’s All Bueno” a show written by one of Los Angeles’ most promising playwrights Sigred Gilmer played to sold out audiences.

24th Street Theater: Like the REDCAT this is a theater venue that mostly hosts productions, but since the loss of the FITLA (Festival of Latin-American Theater) has taken it upon itself to fan the embers of international theatrical collaboration in Los Angeles. Through theirTeatro Nuevo initiative they have managed to stage the hugely popular touring bilingual production of “El Ogrito” and will next be offering “The Armored Reason”, written and directed by one of Latin America’s premier theater practitioners Arístides Vargas.

Watts Village Theater Company: In May spearheaded “Meet Me @Metro”, a theatrical extravaganza in collaboration with six other impactful companies and artists including the OBIE award winning Composer/Director Rick

 ~I could go on but as Mr. McNulty and Mr. Morris know you can’t include them all. 
Guillermo Aviles-Rodriguez
Artistic Director 
Watts Village Theater Company


  1. Your point is well-taken. Two clarifications: The focus of the discussion was smaller theaters, and Cornerstone is a mid-size company. Also, it's untrue there was no mention of any theater below the 10 Freeway: There were two references to "Anton's Uncles," which was presented by the 24th Street Theater (which you include in your list as one of the venues we ignored). I also reviewed "El Ogrito" there.

  2. It feels good to know my blog is being read. I hear what you are saying about Cornerstone being a mid-sized company but since REDCAT was on the list I thought Cornerstone should be as well.
    About 24th Street theater, what I wrote was that no companies that "make their home south of the 10 Freeway" made the cut, I know Theatre Movement Bazaar presents at 24th but they don't live there, that was my point with that, and yes I saw the references to "Anton's Uncles," but the fact it was staged at 24th was not mentioned (it was also staged in other places like the Kennedy Center and Los Angeles City College.)

    To be clear I do not think anyone really "ignored" any theaters on my short list, I just agree that people sometimes get seduced by geography.

    Thank you so much for your post!